Regular readers of this column may recall that I got irritated by a claim that a product was "made with wind energy." The green power grid is a big, unruly thing with electrons coming in from all over, and unless you're directly connected to a wind turbine (and nothing else) it's hard to justify such things. But that's why I love the idea of Windmade, which is an initiative designed to create a credible consumer label for products actually produced with wind. They call these things "trustmarks."
Windmade isn't going to generalize with "made with wind" claims. Instead, it will list the specific amount of wind going into the product, depending on the grid that provided the electricity.The effort looks trustworthy, although you could say that the project's leader, Vestas, one of the world's biggest turbine producers, is not exactly a disinterested party -- it benefits if the label gets used a lot. But the other partners should keep it honest. Vestas is Danish, as is the Lego Group (yes, those Legos), and other partners include the Global Wind Energy Council, WWF, PricewaterhouseCoopers (certifier of the wind certificates), the UN Global Compact and Bloomberg.
Don't get too excited, there's no label yet. Windmade began a public consulting period early this year, and its working group is gathering feedback beginning this month.
Vestas Senior Vice President Morten Albaek told The Daily Beast, "In our dreams, we want to have a label for Windmade, one for solar-made, one for thermal-made, and actually bring the percentage of renewable use up to as close to 100 percent. Why aren't there any coal-made and nuclear-made trustmarks? If the consumer saw products with such labels, it would, for sure, change its preferences."
He added, "You can't find any label more transparent for consumers. It's just about how much wind has been used to produce a product. Soon we'll be able say if it's 12 percent, 80 percent, 100 percent, and the consumer can make up their mind whether they think 12 percent is a lot, or 100 percent is the only thing that matters to them."
That's good. It will be interesting to watch how the Windmade standard gets written. There may be some effort to water down the rules, so watch closely.
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